Student Spotlight

Student of the Year

Headshot of Ms. Bethany Jowers

In recognition of her exemplary service to both the Office of High Impact Practices and Undergraduate Research (HIPUR) and the students which it serves, Ms. Bethany Jowers has been named HIPUR's first Student of the Year.

Ms. Jowers is a rising senior at the University of South Florida majoring in Biomedical Sciences and World Languages and Cultures: Spanish and Latin American Studies. During her time at USF, she has been given many opportunities for research involvement and has presented individual and group projects in multiple university, state, and national conferences. Off-campus, she has served as a research intern and internship coordinator for the Tampa General Hospital Transplant Institute. She has helped to create investigations during her community service at the USF Health Ybor Youth Clinic and the USF BRIDGE Clinic to improve care for underserved populations in the Tampa Bay area.

In Fall 2023, Ms. Jowers will complete her grant-funded Honors thesis research after conducting community health surveys in the Dominican Republic during an Honors Experience Abroad. Ms. Jowers says, "she is grateful to the USF faculty and staff who have supported her during her research journey, and is always looking for ways to help other students access similar opportunities."

Ms. Jowers is a brilliant, dedicated scholar and servant leader who exemplifies the very best in our amazing students. Congratulations to her on a well-deserved honor!

Undergraduate Researchers publish and present

Samuel Camilli

Samuel Camilli

 Samuel Camilli presenting at the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology, an international conference that was held in San Antonio this year.

Undergraduate researchers Samuuel Camilli and Apoorva Desaraju recently published a perspective article entitled The Cd/Zn Axis: Emerging Concepts in Cellular Fate and Cytotoxicity in the Biomolecules journal (Biomolecules 2023, 13(2), 316). The paper’s focus is to highlight two metal ions, cadmium and zinc, and their effects on the cell and the body. Interestingly, cadmium and zinc have similar chemical properties that allow cadmium to compete with zinc in many areas of the body; however, cadmium is toxic and provides no physiological role for the body. Instead, it has been implicated in an array of chronic diseases including cancer, emphysema, arthritis, atherosclerosis, and many more.  

“As someone who has always been fascinated by multidisciplinary research, I was excited to participate in undergraduate research. Though I was strong in writing, I had limited skills in key research practices ranging from lab techniques to the peer-review process. Not only did I enhance these skills working under Dr. Kolliputi’s guidance, I gained confidence in my abilities and learned how to address unanticipated issues.” -Apoorva Desaraju, Undergraduate Student Researcher  

“I found Dr. Narasaiah Kolliputi by luck; one of his former mentees was in my Organic Chemistry II lab and asked me if I was looking for a research opportunity. I eagerly joined without much experience or knowledge of how to truly think like a scientist- the ability to read through the literature, develop a research question, and then create experiments to answer that question. After almost a year in the lab, I have confidently developed a few research projects and have been able to present at a few local conferences and one international conference in Texas.” -Samuel Camilli, Undergraduate Student Researcher 

I think research is something that all students, regardless of the discipline, should experience. The innovations of the modern world come from the tireless efforts of researchers, and the perspectives of participants fuel these efforts. No matter what your field of interest is, there are questions to be asked and new things to be discovered. The most exciting part of research is when your results are different from your original question. If our hypotheses were always fully supported, then we know we’re not asking the right question to fuel a novel discovery. Research can be tough at times, but this challenging quality makes it so fulfilling when the project is successful. There is so much out there to learn, so go out there and learn it. 

UndergradUATE Researcher Publishes medical research

Caila Robinson

Caila Robinson

Many undergraduate students participate in the high-impact practice of conducting research but only a small percent of undergraduates publish their work. Caila Robinson is among these outstanding scholars and you can be too! Here is Caila's story and her advice to her peers who want to take their education to the next level.

I have always been naturally curious with a desire to pursue research and decided to seek out opportunities that were available on campus. I was intrigued by the research on pulmonary injuries and Dr. Kolliputi gave me the opportunity to write a perspective article on Cadmium, an environmental metal toxin, and how it can be mitigated to prevent lung injuries, which was published August 2022. 

Throughout the research process I learned that it is a marathon and not a sprint; experimental procedures do not always go as planned, requiring a great deal of troubleshooting and the revision process for a manuscript seems long and difficult. Nonetheless, these challenges make the end result all the more rewarding. 

I am fortunate to have found Dr. Kolliputi as my mentor by searching undergraduate research opportunities within the Office of High Impact Practices & Undergraduate Research's website. My advice is to continue seeking out and emailing mentors that are involved in research that align with what you are passionate about, whether it may be professors you have or not. It only takes one person to say “yes” to get started.

The most exciting part of the research project was seeing my name part of something that I worked so hard for while simultaneously increasing my awareness. Dr. Kolliputi has been instrumental throughout the whole process by providing critical feedback, support and numerous resources.

I encourage each undergraduate student to develop a bond with his or her mentor because they can provide you with various opportunities and guidance. 

USF Undergraduate Students Participate iN a Renewable Portable Energy Project in Tanzania

A group of researchers at the University of South Florida (USF) traveled to Tanzania in the summer of 2022 to conduct a project to develop a portable energy source for some of the tribes living in rural Africa. The project was conducted in collaboration with students and faculty at the Nelson Mandela African Institute of Science and Technology (NM-AIST) in Arusha, Tanzania. Funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation, and under the direction of Sarath Witanachchi, a professor of physics at USF, eight university students, and two professors have been pursuing a new concept to develop a portable energy source for some of the tribes living in rural Africa.

The group consisted of the following undergraduate students: Derick Detellem (Physics), Christian Coris (Electrical Engineering), Clayton Baker (Mechanical Engineering), Lauryn Bryce (Social Science), Sarah Abdallah (Physics), Mena Kazerounian (Health Science), Hannah Kazerounian (Health Science), Caleb Beanblossom (St. Pete, Social Science).  

For more informtaion about this endeavor please visit The HUB.

Research Scholar Awardees

The USF Undergraduate Research Scholar Award recognizes a student’s commitment to their development as a researcher during their undergraduate tenure. Below is the list of students who have received this honor.

  • Magdelena Alvarez, Communication Science and Disorders
  • Jaidon Angel, Communication Science and Disorders
  • Lena Bayyat, Communication Science and Disorders
  • Jade Brown, Communication Science and Disorders
  • Aisha Bazlamatci, Interdisciplinary
  • Samuel Camilli, Health Science
  • Presley Camp, Social Science
  • Samantha Deveaux, Health Sciences
  • Iman Elkolalli, Communication Science and Disorders
  • Christine Grossman, Psychology
  • Cassandra Hendry, Communication Science and Disorders
  • Jacob Hensley, Engineering
  • Jacqueline Houston, Social Work
  • Yuri Lizardo, Communication Sciences and Disorders
  • Anna Beatriz Cortes Machado, Physical Science
  • Ebu Ojogwu, Health Science
  • Jessica O'Reilly, Communication Science and Disorders
  • Mackenzie Osborne, Psychology
  • Perdita Samuel-Lopez, Communication Science and Disorders
  • Abigail Reed, Interdisciplinary
  • Shanon Rego, Cell and Molecular Biology
  • Evelyn Spiller, Public Health
  • Karly Underwood, Social Science
  • Cindy Yang, Biomedical Science and Anthropology
  • Haley Vantoorenburg, Physical Science
  • Gabrielle Whyte, Humanities
  • Breanna Zurita, Communication Sciences and Disorders

2023 Undergraduate Research Conference

Select categories below to see the names and disciplines of the 2023 USF Undergraduate Research Conference award winners.

OneUSF General Disciplinary Awards 

Engineering: Jacob Hensley

Health Sciences: Samuel Camilli and Ebu Ojogwu

Huminities: Gabrielle Whyte

Interdisciplinary Research: Aisha Bazlamatc and Abigail Reed

Physical Science: Anna Beatriz Cortes Machado and Haley Vantoorenburg

Social Science: Presley Camp and Karly Underwood

Honorable Mentions: 

Engineering: Isabella St. Pierre-Charles

Health Sciences: Anagha Hesaraghatta and Misha Mathur

Interdisciplinary Research: Nidhi Bangalore and Kaitlyn Serafin

Physical Science: Lina Elessawy and Kira Ruiz-Houston

Social Science: Coleman O’Toole

Audience Choice Award Tampa Research Showcase

Audience Choice Award Winner:
Trisha Pitchala, CRISPR Cas9 in Cancer Therapy

Honorable Mention:
Issac Diaz Becdach, Natural Killer Cell Receptors (NKRs) Expression Modulates T Cell Effector Function in Vitro